Former Cantonment Fire Chief Honored

May 29, 2020

A firefighter walked down the long driveway playing bagpipes.  He stopped short of a golf cart on the lawn, as firefighters walked over with a white helmet.

They were there to honor Johnell Smith who served with the Cantonment Volunteer Fire Department from 1995 to 2008, including a couple of years as department chief. He was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer a few months ago.

“As a token of appreciation for your years of service and the dedication that you put in for the fire service…we’d like to give you a token of our appreciation,” Molino District Chief Anthony Manning said as he presented a white chief’s hat to Smith. “We thank you for your service, sir. We thank your for all that you have done.”

“Thank you,” a tearful Smith said.

“…Everything that you have done for your community and the time that you have put in,” Manning continued.

The chief’s helmet presentation was made on behalf of the Florida Fire Chief’s Association, Escambia County Chief’s Association, Escambia County District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners and Escambia Fire Rescue.

Last Sunday, the community threw an early Father’s Day parade for Smith. photos by Kristi Barbour and Haley Smith, click to enlarge.


11 Responses to “Former Cantonment Fire Chief Honored”

  1. Jacqueline Dailey on June 14th, 2020 10:32 am

    Thank you for your service
    What a wonderful way for the community to show appreciation and to lift his spirits.

  2. Joe Utnage on June 1st, 2020 1:26 pm

    Seeing this reminds me of some great times brother, I am truly sorry for your condition and hope for the best ,nobody deserves this illness and most certainly you do not, I have always thought of you with great respect. Kristi if you should happen to talk to Jonelle please give him my best. God bless !

  3. Pattie Brill on May 29th, 2020 8:09 pm

    Johnell, God Bless you.You always had a smile and kind words when you would come in to see Dr. Edge. You worked with my sons and also came into the credit union that’s how I knew you. My prayers are with you and your loved ones.

  4. Les Westlake on May 29th, 2020 7:34 pm

    Ditto with John. You are a great leader and showed a 40 year old rookie the ropes, and ladders and nozzles. I tend to remember the good times of firefighting (Being Santa in the stinky suit, Halloween spook houses and family picnics) and forget the petty stuff. Janet and my prayers are with Johnell and family.

  5. Tywona Crockett on May 29th, 2020 3:19 pm

    Johnell thank you for your kindness and Service. I pary for healing and love for you and your Family. Never give up God is in control and can Heal, I have seen this. We we serve and an Amazing Lord! Please dont hestitate to ask for and needs you are your family may need. We are ALL her for you!

  6. Tina Kelly on May 29th, 2020 2:25 pm

    God Bless you Johnell. Prayers sent to you and your Family. I went to Cottage Hill Baptist Church with you and your family many years ago. So sorry that you are going through this tough time!!

  7. John Crispin on May 29th, 2020 1:59 pm

    Johnell, I enjoyed the pleasure of serving with you in the volunteer fire service. You were a great inspiration to fellow firefighters. Even though I only saw you a few times, it’s the memories that count. Stay strong brother thru the journey you have ahead of you.

  8. Karl Schlotfeldt on May 29th, 2020 8:57 am

    Johnell I’m sad to hear this you were a great classmate in the academy, always full of jokes, and kind words of encouragement to the others. Even though we dont’t know what Gods plans are I pray he comforts you as you go through this ordeal. Stay strong Brother God has you!

  9. Kathi McLeod on May 29th, 2020 8:56 am

    God bless you Sir, and thank you for your service. I lived in Cantonment in 1988.

  10. Stacey Schultz on May 29th, 2020 8:22 am

    Jeff, you hit the nail on the head about Johnell! Knowing him since high school, we grow up and grow apart but every time I see Johnell, he has a hand shake and a big smile on his face! I knew nothing about his illness and that shows that we as a community should take the time to look up those old friends and have a laugh or two. I’m proud to say he is an old buddy from high school and I’m extending my hand for a hand shake to him right now!

  11. Jeff Howard on May 29th, 2020 8:02 am

    Very. Cool. Johnell is a good man and great friend who has helped a lot of people. Continuing to pray for God’s healing, strength and grace for him and his family.

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